Lobbyist while legislator charges against Klein; Klein says Shaw is a “do nothing” legislator

“It was reported in 1994 that Ron Klein’s law and lobbying firm earned more than $1.5 million for representing the taxpayer-funded Palm Beach County Health Care District. Today, Ron Klein proudly boasts that he continues to represent their interests. And what taxpayers want to know, according to Gail Gitcho, “is just how much of our money has Senator Ron Klein received representing the Palm Beach County Health Care District?”

Gitcho charged that in 1988 taxpayers in Palm Beach County voted to create and fund the Palm Beach County Health Care District. Lobbyist. Klein “personally profited,” she said, from this taxpayer-funded initiative when he accepted the job of the Palm Beach County Health Care District’s paid general counsel.

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“In fact, Klein earned $195 per hour, or $60,000 just for attending meetings on their behalf,” Gitcho charged.

(Gitcho, normally Shaw’s press secretary has, under US house rules, taken a leave of absence without pay, to work directly on Shaw’s campaign.)

Even today, Ron Klein lists the Palm Beach County Health Care District as one of his personal clients, Gitcho said.

“If Klein helped his firm earn more than $1.5 million twelve years ago, how much taxpayer funded money is he bringing in today?” said Gitcho, “It’s time for Ron Klein to shed some sunlight on his business dealings with an entity the taxpayers voted to create. South Florida taxpayers have a right to know.”

Klein Responds

Klein campaign manager Brian Smoot issued the followed statement in response to the allegations.

“As usual, Clay Shaw hides while Washington Republicans try and confuse voters into going along with the failed policies of this President and this administration.

“While Ron Klein supported the strictest lobbying bill in the country –Clay Shaw has done nothing. While federal funding for Everglades restoration is cut year after year–Clay Shaw does nothing. While thousands of Americans are being killed and wounded in Iraq–Clay Shaw does nothing. While 16 American Intelligence Agencies tell us that we are losing the War on Terror because of the President’s failed policies, Clay Shaw does nothing. While millions of seniors find themselves unable to afford their prescription drugs because of a drug bill that was written by and for the prescription drug industry-Clay Shaw does nothing. While oil companies take billions in subsidies while raking in billions in profits, Clay Shaw does nothing. While homeowner insurance companies raise rates, cancel policies and force people to face the prospect of loosing their homes, Clay Shaw does nothing.

“Clay Shaw has the longest record in Congress of doing nothing. This is why he has to rely on his Washington keepers to bail him out of hot water with this campaign of deception and distortion.

“Clay Shaw can do nothing at his mountain home in North Carolina, the big question is why he’s so desperate to keep doing nothing in Congress?

“Mired in denial while America’s military, international standing and taxpayers dollars remain mired in Iraq, Clay Shaw maintains that the War in Iraq is over and we have won. While fixed income seniors are choosing between food and medicine, Clay Shaw says the Prescription Drug bill is terrific and needs no changes. While encouraging employers to hire illegal aliens, Clay Shaw tries to talk a good line about immigration.

“Clay Shaw likes to talk about his “plan” for social security, when in actuality it borrows three trillion dollars, further bankrupts the federal government and does nothing to fix the problem.

“Once upon a time, Clay Shaw raised taxes on Social Security, cut benefits, raised the retirement age and even voted to impose the first ever tax on Social Security. He has taken his turn raiding the Social security trust fund nine times and now wants to do away with Social Security by privatizing it.

“This is Mr. Shaw’s record. Is there any wonder why his keepers in Washington have to distort and deceive to try and keep him around?

“Double Life”

“Ron Klein admitted (Sept. 20) that he has “represented clients in local government,” Gitcho countered, “but he doesn’t believe this campaign should be about his career as a lawyer and a lobbyist, adding the campaign should be about how each candidate’s voting records

In that case,” Gitcho said, “not only did Lobbyist Ron Klein increase his personal wealth by representing the taxpayer funded health care district, but State Senator Ron Klein voted to pass legislation that provided an additional funding source to his client. Then Lobbyist Ron Klein continued to receive fees for his continued representation of the health care district.

In 2005, Senator Klein, who sits on the Senate Transportation Committee, cosponsored legislation that created an additional funding source for state trauma centers, two of which are in the Palm Beach County Health Care District, at the expense of taxpayers (HB497). This legislation Senator Klein voted for directly impacted the clients he was being paid to represent as their general counsel.

“Klein’s vote to increase funding for the hospital district was for a good cause because the trauma centers needed the additional funds. But there is a clear conflict of interest when he is voting on legislation that directly impacts those he represents in his law/lobbying firm, and then collected fees for his service as their general counsel,” said Gitcho.

“Ron Klein’s actions as a lobbyist and State Senator have gone unanswered for too long,” Gitcho said. “Does Ron Klein want to be an elected official or a lobbyist/lawyer? He can’t have it both ways. It’s past time for him to be honest with the voters about his double-life as a lobbyist and a legislator.”

John Johnston can be reached at 561-549-0833, or at jjohnston@bocanews.com